Talking tech since 2003

Microsoft’s flagship OS, Windows 8.1, is slowly and steadily climbing upward in terms of total usage, as revealed by the most recent report from NetMarketShare detailing December’s OS market share numbers. The bad news for Microsoft is that 8.1 is taking so long to earn the widespread adoption that I’m sure it’d like. But the good news is that use of its older versions of Windows—XP specifically—is on the decline. In fact, Windows 8.1 is actually this close to overtaking XP’s successor, Windows Vista.

In November, Windows 8.1 had managed to take hold of 2.64 percent of the market share, itself a huge improvement over its share of 1.72 from October. Windows 8.1’s market share in December hit another high of 3.6 percent. That’s a steady gain from month to month. And regular flavor Windows 8 is increasing too, going from the ominous-looking market share of 6.66 to the much less scary 6.89. And since Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade, one has to wonder how long 8 will beat out 8.1 for dominance—though I’ve mentioned my own struggles with 8.1 in other posts, so perhaps that’s a factor for others as well.

As mentioned above, Windows Vista somehow managed to pull in 3.61 percent in December, meaning it’s got just a tenth of a percent more market share than 8.1. And as more and more users adopt 8 and 8.1, I’m sure that we’ll see Vista shrink even further. Though how or why anyone is still using Vista is something of a mystery.

Even more noteworthy to me is how much of a stranglehold Windows XP still seems to have on the market. Chances are good this is a result of its wide usage in doctor’s offices and businesses all over the world, and the costs and headaches associated with upgrading workstation computers. Microsoft is simply a victim of its own success: most of its previous iterations of Windows were so stable and functional that they simply became a standard part of workplace life. That means that users are going to be more hesitant to upgrade to new experiences—why change what works? And if certain billing or accounting programs work on older software, the problems associated with upgrading can often be more trouble than they’re worth.

As ever, we’ll keep watching the market share to see when, if ever, Windows 8 and 8.1 manage to make a dent in the utter dominance held by Windows 7.

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